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Lena C. Emery is a visual artist whose practice is primarily based in photography. Born in Germany and raised between Asia and Europe, Emery’s nuanced aesthetic mirrors her itinerant upbringing. Her work is permeated with Japanese influences which stem from a deep appreciation of animistic and aesthetic philosophies.
Emery studied Fine Arts at Parsons Paris, where she received a partial scholarship, and completed her studies in Berlin. She lives and works in London since 2011.
Emery’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at institutions such as Parasol Unit Foundation for Contemporary Art in London, Annenberg Space of Photography in New York and the Asama International Photo Festival in Japan. Her images have been included in books by Gestalten, Rizzoli and SPBH Editions.
The British Journal of Photography selected her first monograph Rie (publ. Kominek) as one of the most engaging & exciting projects of 2016, as featured on their noteworthy photographers issue cover in 2017.
“When I first picked up Rie, I immediately knew this wasn’t an ordinary book of nudes. This openness creates pictures much like a breath of fresh air. Emery is certainly a portraitist and bookmaker whose work I will continue to keep an eye on.”
– Todd Hido, Fine Art Photographer
Her second book Yuka & The Forest (publ. Art Paper Editions, printed on 100% recycled paper) which draws on Japan’s powerful cultural connection to forests, was exhibited within the Prix du Livre d’Auteur in Arles in 2019 and included in the BJP’s nature issue 2020 over 12 pages. 30% of profits from book sales were donated to the World Wide Fund For Nature.
“In the battle of representation, Emery’s work surrounding the climate crisis has returned to a place that is quieter, somewhere a little less painful but at the same time doesn’t let us forget the dark weight that is pressing down on the world. Her images show a place that is some distance from the entrenched view of humans as subject and the world as an object, and offers a renewed perception of symbiosis.”
– Kris Kozlowski Moore on ‘Yuka & The Forest’
Emery’s series Tenchi: Building a Bridge Between Heaven and Earth was highlighted by Christiana Figures, former Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and leader of the COP 21 that led to the Paris Agreement, as she discussed the role of photography & the arts in understanding the climate crisis within the BJP’s Decade of Change Issue 2021.
British Vogue, Dazed, M Le Magazine du Monde, Pleasure Garden, Pop, Purple, System, The Gentlewoman and WSJ
Chanel, Chloe, De Beers, Dior, Helmut Lang, Hermes, La Perla, Lemaire, Stella McCartney and Tiffany & Co
“As a child I came across the volumes of naturalist, artist and author Joy Adamson in my grandmother’s bookshelf.
Adamson wrote: “Since we humans have the better brain, isn’t it our responsibility to protect our fellow creatures from, oddly enough, ourselves? Wildlife is something which man cannot construct. Once it is gone, it is gone forever. Man can rebuild a pyramid, but he can’t rebuild ecology, or a giraffe.” Upon graduating from high school, inspired by Adamson’s commitment to wildlife conservation which she documented in paintings, photographs and writing, I moved to a small island in Southeast Sulawesi. Due to my father’s work I had been able to accompany him on his travels to about 15 countries by that time, but never anywhere as isolated or remote. Through a friend he had become aware of a string of islands, at the time when their surrounding waters were heavily overfished. Optimistic about the reef’s potential they created a dive resort and Wakatobi Collaborative Reef Conservation Program was born in 1998. At the time there were about 15 people on the entire island, which consisted of a dense jungle, a few smaller bungalows and a larger central longhouse with bathrooms and a kitchen, no internet or phone reception, and a boat that only came every two weeks to pick up and drop off divers. After decades of collaborative conservation in partnership with the indigenous population on its surrounding islands, Wakatobi now is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and one of the largest privately-funded marine protected areas with the highest number of reef and fish species in the world. “– Lena C. Emery
Emery has been leading a plant based lifestyle and actively campaigns against the use of fur and exotic skins in fashion. She has been working closely with animal welfare and environmental groups such as the RSPCA and Trees for Cities for almost a decade, and continues to focus how work on facilitating symbiotic relationships between NGOs and brands through creative projects.